Skip to main content

Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

See other formats

ALEXANDER  VON HXJMBOLDT.                   S3
port, in order to exit off the coramixrdcation between
Spain and its colonies. The two travellers had re-
commendations from the Spanish minister and from
the chief secretary of state to Don Raphael Clavigo,
who had for some time been superintendent of the
ports, but he could do nothing 'more than, in obe-
dience to the commands of the minister, to make their
stay as agreeable as possible, .for they were obliged to
wait until the blockading English fleet should permit
their departure. A ship,, the corvette Pizarro, was
lying in the port and was intended to sail to Mexico
ami Havannah, but had been detained by the blockade.
Clavigo advised Humboldt to go on board that ship,
and wait for a favourable opportunity of putting o\\t
to sea. The travellers followed this advice, and as
they were anxious for their valuable instruments, and
expressed the wish also to visit the island of Tene-
riffe, Clavigo commanded the captain of the Pizarro
not only to provide a safe place for Hxxmboldt's scien-
tific instruments, but also to stay at the above-named
island as long a time as the travellers would require
to visit, the port of Oratava, and to ascend the peak
of Towsriftb.
The few days which elapsed before their effects
could be shipped were spent, partly in a classified
arrangement of the plants collected in Spain, partly
in correspondence, partly in. short trips to the little
town of Forrol, situated at tlib other point of the bay,
whore they made experiments on the temperature of
the sea and the decrease of heat in the superincum-
bent layers of water. By these experiments they
found the result, so important to navigators, that the
neighbourhood of a Baud-bank is revealed before the
lead can bo made use of, by the quick decrease in. the
temperature of the water, and that the seaman can
therefore perceive the approach of danger much
Hoonor l>y the thermometer than by the lead. At the
moment of departure Humboldt wrote a letter to
Captain Baudiu, in which he reminded him of the
promise he had given, *hat if the delayed1 expedition